• Malthus based his ideas about population and food on two basic premises.

1) Food is necessary to sustain life
2) Human sexual instinct is constant.

  • Starting with these two premises, Malthus built an argument that the
  • population if unchecked would double every 25 years (about one
  • generation)

Population would progress geometrically
Food production would be limited arithmetically

More land would be required for production;

  • fertile tracts of land would be employed out of necessity, and these less- fertile
  • lands would yield fewer crops.
  • As more and more workers cultivate the lands more intensively, the productivity
  • of the added worker also declines
  • Malthus used the economic principle, the law of diminishing returns, to explain why growth in
  • food production would be limited to arithmetical increases from one generation to the next.
  • Each generation’s food production increases by an amount equal to the original quantity.

The World in a balance

  • Malthus used the economic principle, the law of diminishing returns, to explain why growth in food production would be limited to arithmetical increases from one generation to the next.
  • Each generation’s food production increases by an amount equal to the original quantity.

Departure From Smith:

  • Whereas Adam Smith argued that increasing production and subsequent rise in wages (law of population) would bring about increasing prosperity, Malthus argued that: the workers’ improved standard of living would reduce infant mortality rates, which would have the effect of increasing the population at a faster rate than the means of subsistence.

Proposals

  • Checks to Population: death rates, war, famine, disease and epidemics
  • Preventive checks: reduce birth rate through sexual abstinence and late marriage. Developments that have changed this circumstance in the West:
  • Technological applications in agriculture, known collectively as the Green revolution.
  • Urbanization and individuation has had a negative effect on the birth rate.

The World in a balance

  • What are the various challenges facing the populations of India, Kenya, and Japan.
  • What are the issues facing each country? What does the population pyramid for each country look like and why?
  • How might each country’s issues be addressed?
  • In 2050, there will be approximately nine billion people in the world, according to the most widely accepted estimate. What problems this might create for developing countries.
  • What challenges will industrialized nations face?
  • What problems will a nation like Japan, with a declining population face?

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Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Thomas Robert Malthus: Food & Population," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/thomas-robert-malthus-food-population/.
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